Monday, February 10, 2020

Quick Sips - Flash Fiction Online February 2020

February might be a month for romance but as Flash Fiction’s maybe a bit more a month for lost love. Which still involves love! But, well, the love is rather bittersweet here, as each of the original stories features characters to have lost and who aren’t willing to accept that. Who want to push back against the pain they are feeling. Who want to reconnect and who would do almost anything to have what they have had taken from them. And how they deal with that defines their arcs, their trajectories and these aren’t necessarily the happiest of reads, but they are about love, and that’s still kinda in the spirit of the season! To the reviews!


“We Are the Moor” by Sylvia Heike (975 words)

No Spoilers: Unfolding from the point of view of a collective landscape, from the titular moor themself, this piece follows the struggles of one who has joined them but hasn’t yet given up their individual nature and embraced the natural harmony of the moor. It’s a story of love cut short, of a woman’s resolve and determination to be with the man she loves, to push back against the loss she suffered. And through her will there is magic and there is understanding and healing, even if it’s not quite what she had in mind. It’s a story that mixes a kind of romantic loyalty with a deeper sense of time and change, with a dash of unsettling horror that I couldn’t quite shake.
Keywords: Afterlife, Marriage, Moors, Desire, Patience
Review: There is certainly a part of me that isn’t sure how dark to read this story as, because mostly I read it as a story of time and change, of this afterlife where all the people curied in the moor become a part of it and live in a state of collective unity. Only one woman, who died when she was to be a bride, can’t quite let go of her singular existence. She is still plagued by desire, by grief, by hope that she’ll still be able to be with her man as long as she holds out, as long as she maintains her separation. And it’s something that does allow her to get a new body, to walk free. But it’s not enough to prevent time from having healed her man’s wounds, not enough to prevent him from finding comfort and healing in the arms of someone else. Which might seem only natural. After all, death is usually final, and the idea that his love might come back as a natural being probably didn’t register. And it’s the element that finally gets her to settle into the reality of the moor, the comfort of only being a small part of something so large. She can lose her pain there, and her grief, and can gain the perspective of so many others. But the story doesn’t quite end there, instead also assuring the woman that, eventually, her man will be theirs as well. Which is perhaps a little creepy, at least for me, because while this might speak to how they’ll be reunited in death yay I mean hypothetically his new wife will also be theirs and well, in any event, there’s a hint of darkness for me that touches the piece, that for all that the collective has soothed the woman and taken her into the fold, she’s actually touched them, as well, with something of her desire and her need for this man she cannot have. It’s an evocative and yearning story, a haunting told from the other side, and it’s a great read!

“Love and Assimilation” by Bryce Heckman (1000 words)

No Spoilers: The narrator of this story is a...well, a blob...thing. A creature. An experiment. An escaped experiment. Who got out so they could be with their beloved, Unit 9. Only before the two of them could merge, become one, they were violently torn apart by a bystander who mistook them for...a jellyfish? And killed Unit 9. Now the narrator is out for revenge, though they’re not exactly big enough yet to pose much of a threat. The piece is strange and a mix of genuine emotion and kind of ridiculous spoof. But it comes through as fun even as it builds on loss and grief.
Keywords: Experiments, Creatures, Revenge, Grief, Blobs
Review: I really like the way this one twists the tropes and expectations, giving a blob-like creature a lot more tragic a back story than I was expecting. And it’s another piece that deals very closely with loss, with grief, what a person (of any sort) will do when faced with not being with the one they were expecting to be with forever. Here the loss provokes a very primal response—the desire for revenge. Now, I’m not a huge fan of stories where the primary and really only motivations are revenge, but I feel that this one does a good job of keeping things fairly light despite the heaviness of what’s actually happened. The narrator has lost someone in this very casual and extremely violent way. They were a prisoner before, and have escaped only to find that the outside world is definitely not a safe place to be. Not that they are defenseless. Part of what I like here is that this was all so...avoidable. If they had been able to merge with their love, then maybe none of this would have come to be. Instead, fueled by their anger and pain and disgust, they have embraced the part of themself that is hungry. That wants to consume and assimilate. So that they can grow. And grow. And maybe in that consumption, in that eating, have a chance to forget. Or to make the part of them that is so hurt smaller, proportionally less intense. Not that it’s likely to work, but having that mission is now all that’s left to them, and the story captures that well, the sort of lost feeling of the narrator, the way they didn’t want this, still don’t really want this, but are trapped all the same in this terrible pattern now of consumptiona nd growth. And it is fun and rather funny, a twist on a lot of blob narratives and one that does a lot of complex emotional building. A fine read!

“An Oasis of Amends” by Floris Kleijne (807 words)

No Spoilers: This story makes three for three on stories that focus on loss of love. Here though the action takes place in the near future where climate change is wrecking the globe, causing ocean levels to rise, spawning storms that devastate whole nations. The narrator is a wealthy person trying to fight against the change. Trying to save the planet. And they’re speaking to their partner, their spouse, who always thought it was foolish to try and conserve, to try and save, when climate change can’t be stopped with the resources available. And it’s a story achored by grief, by remose, and by action spurred on by the memory of love. It’s a wrenching read, raw and wounded, but still not quite without hope.
Keywords: Climate Change, Marriage, Loss, Regret, Storms
Review: This story looks rather closely at the different approaches to climate change—namely, how people can react to it, either by focusing on conservation...or accepting that the change is happening and instead focusing on find new ways to deal with that and to help mitigate the damage from the change. The narrator here has always been a part of the former camp, trying to stop the change, trying to convince people to act, trying to build sea walls and the like so that people can continue more or less living as they have been. Whereas Rowan, the narrator’s spouse, didn’t really think that was the best way. Because those things only do so much, and the damage is so extensive that there really is no stopping it. No holding it back. No bailing out the ship while it’s sinking. But they went along with the narrator out of love and, well, it killed them. And now the narrator is faced with realizing that bailing the ship out might not be an option. But that doesn’t mean that the planet is doomed. There are other things to be done, especially in seeking to find ways through the change to help people survive. Maybe not as they have been, maybe not where thy have been, but to survive all the same. To adapt and to try and take proactive steps to help as many people as possible reach the future. Because either climate change will be the final nail in the coffin of humanity, or it won’t be. It might be too late to prevent even the worst of it from happening, but that doesn’t mean that humanity has to give up. There are still things to be done, and the narrator is resolved to do them, all inspired by their own guilt and grief. It’s a wrenching read, the narrator trying to reach back to a person who’s no longer there. And still moving forward, because that’s all that’s left. A wonderful way to close out the issue!


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